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Learn how to use an alpha channel as a mask in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
Tags:adobe,adobe photoshop cs3,alpha channel,channels,images,masking,photoshop,total training
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Now we are going to be working a lot with Masking later on in the series, so I am not going to really go ahead and show you how to create a mask, but rather we will take a look now and how we would take our Alpha Channel that we have already created, this Mask Alpha Channel that's right above this and we are going to load that into the image and then we are going to start using that as a mask here inside of Photoshop.
So, the first thing you need to do is you need to make sure that your mask is completed and that you have all the different areas that you want selected already painted out in the mask, and I am going to show you how to do that a little bit later on.
But for now we are just going to work with this Alpha Channel that I have already created for you. And what you are going to do is just going to bring your mouse over into this channel onto the thumbnail and what we are going to do is we are going to Command+Click on the Mac, Ctrl+Click on the PC and what it's going to do is just load that as a selection. Now it's automatically going to load the white portions of the image simply because when you Ctrl or Command+Click on a channel thumbnail it loads the lightness values of that image, so it's going to load the lightest portions of the image and ignore your shadows.
So for this particular mask here I have masked out only the girl, so I am not masking out the background, I am only masking her out by herself. So if I go ahead and click back onto the RGB Composite Channel here, you will see that I have an active selection that goes all the way around this young lady here and it creates a very nice mask if I were to say add a layer mask to this or jump into Quick Mask Mode which we are going to talk a little bit more about in the Making Selections Chapter. So for now we are just loading this as a selection, just to kind of show you exactly how this would work, once you have created your mask which is what we are going to be doing here in a little while.
So after you have already got this loaded up and it's ready to go, we are ready to start implementing this as a mask and using it in a way that gives you a little bit more flexibility and also some great visual feedback as to how you would modify this mask to better select whatever it is that you are trying to select here inside of this image. So what we are going to do is we are going to come back into the Channels here, I am going to click on the Mask Channel, like so, and then what we are going to do is we are just going to combine that with any other channel that you would like to do so with.
So for instance if you want to combine that with the Green Channel you could certainly do that by simply clicking on the little eyeball right here and you will notice that you get this nice rubylift look as if you were inside of Quick Mask Mode. Now I know we haven't gone into exactly what Quick Mask Mode is, but this is just going to give you a better understanding of Quick Mask Mode once we get to it. Now, if you don't feel like you need to be viewing this as a Black and White Channel, you could always only view the RGB Channel and you could simply just click on the RGB Composite up here at the top, the eyeball not the channel itself, but the eyeball and what that's going to do is allow you to view this in a Full Color Mode with that mask around the outside.
So what we have now is essentially a mask all the way around the edges of this image and we are representing that by implementing that mask that we just loaded as a selection. Now I am going to go ahead and I am going to de-select this for now just by using Command or Ctrl+D, and you will notice when I do that that I still maintain this nice red overlay around the edges of this image, and I have that simply because I have that Alpha Channel turned on here that mask Alpha Channel. So you don't necessarily have to load this as a selection to see what it would look like as a mask, you could simply just activate that Channel and then click on the RGB Composite to see all of those combined into this masking situation here.
So what you are going to notice is that when you paint on this Alpha Channel for instance, wherever you paint with black that is going to then show up as that red overlay or an area that's been masked out. Anywhere you paint with white is not going to have that red overlay and that's going to be an area that is not masked out. So, that's going to be the area that's going to be selected when you load that as a selection as I showed you before.